Yakama Nation files Kennewick Man suit
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JUNE 1, 2000

The Yakama Nation of Washington has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the ownership of Kennewick Man. In a counterclaim filed last Friday in the US District Court in Portland, Oregon, the Yakama are claiming legal custody over the 9,000 year old Native man known by the tribe as Techaminsh Oytpamanatityt, meaning "From the Land the First Native."

The suit is intended to block further study of Kennewick Man. Renewed testing began in April by a group of eight federally appointed scientists who hope a series of tests they conduct will determine to what present day tribe or tribes, if any, Kennewick Man is related.

Along with several other tribes in the Northwest, the Yakama believe Kennewick Man is one of their ancestors. The suit claims rightful ownership of the remains lies with the tribe under the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990.

Under the law, human remains and other artifacts are to be repatriated to tribes and Native Americans where a cultural affiliation can be shown. Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior concluded the remains are of a Native man, although no determination of cultural affiliation has been made.

Despite the government's findings, the tribes have continually protested further study of the remains.

Related Stories:
Kennewick testing to begin (Indian U 4/24)
Kennewick Man study sets precedent (Tribal Law 4/26)

Relevant Links:
The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation
Kennewick Man from the Archaeology and Ethnography Program of the National Parks Service.
The Kennewick Man Virtual Interpretive Center by the Tri-City Herald.

Only on Indianz.Com:
NAGPRA - The law and resources.

Staff and news wires contributed to this report.